China's digital healthcare dreams

 18-May-16, CKGSB Knowledge 

China's healthcare delivery systems are full of big gaps that need to be bridged quickly. Given the importance of the healthcare industry, it is obvious that the Chinese government will play a dominant role. The government plans to train 150,000 general practitioners and at the same time establish a primary care system with two components: community health centers in urban areas and small hospitals with higher standards in rural areas.

Chinas digital healthcare dreams (c) CKGSB

Image: CKGSB Knowledge

To an extent, private hospitals can fill the gaps. Although they have been permitted in China for more than 20 years, the role of private hospitals is still limited. They account of 46% of China's hospitals but only 15% of China's hospital beds, and do a mere 11% of the healthcare work, according to China Hospital Association. They also tend to be much more expensive.

Not ones to be left behind, China's big three internet giants - Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT) - and several tech start-ups are getting involved in healthcare in different ways. Given the penetration of mobile phones and the internet, digital healthcare is becoming big in China.

According to BCG, "In 2014, approximately $700 million in venture funding poured into digital healthcare in China, with investors supporting all things digital, from e-commerce to online physician-and-patient communication services to disease management apps. This is just the beginning."

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